Ages ago, I had this idea that, to sing/chant alliterative poetry, one should assign fixed tones to the stressed syllables, and then fill in the other syllables as needed.
I was thrilled to find that 'The Rhythm of Beowulf' suggested a similar scheme, a year or three ago. (Where does the time go?)
Yesterday in the car, I was trying it out. At a first go, it's really really hard to let go of years and years of singing one way and suddenly sing another.
Then I thought: What if... I played the 'stress notes' on the lyre or harp, and sang the others? Dividing the work between hands and voice might help maintain the separation between the fixed pattern and the changing ornamentation - sort of like the principle behind playing guitar chords, I guess.
Wow, okay, it sounds a lot less novel when I put it like that. Heh.
Still, that's similar enough to some of the kinds of improvisation that I have done that I think I might be able to get it to work. Will have to try soon!